Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

MBNA adding cashback rewards to its credit cards

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Many HfP readers have an MBNA credit card, primarily the (not available to the general public) Horizon card:

For the benefit of new readers, MBNA used to dominate the ‘air miles’ credit card market in the UK. At its peak, it issued cards for:

  • American
  • bmi British Midland (many versions!)
  • Emirates (x 2 versions)
  • Etihad
  • Lufthansa
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic (x 2 versions)

With the introduction of the cap on interchange fees, MBNA decided to withdraw from the affinity market and put itself up for sale, eventually being purchased by Lloyds Bank.

MBNA Smart Rewards

Most people who held one of these cards were offered something called the Horizon card. This is, frankly, an amazingly good piece of plastic:

  • It’s a Visa card
  • which gives 0.5% cashback
  • and which has no foreign exchange fees

You don’t earn any points, but for non-UK spending it is a great product.

MBNA is now introducing Amex-style cashback rewards

MBNA is about to launch ‘Smart Rewards’. There is a holding page here on their website and a FAQ here.

All cardholders will see potential ‘Smart Rewards’ offers as long as they are registered for online card servicing.

As with Amex, you need to manually opt in to each offer that you think may interest you.

Cashback will be added to your card balance once per month. You will be able to see ‘pending’ payments online so you will know that an offer has successfully triggered.

The companies shown as typical of the partners who will be involved are:

  • Co-Op
  • LNER trains
  • Hilton
  • Costa Coffee

To quote:

If you’d like shopping to be a little more rewarding, MBNA Smart Rewards could be the perfect fit:

  • Browse available offers and pick out the ones which suit you best.
  • Keep track of the cashback you’ve earned in the Smart Rewards hub.
  • Coming to Online Card Services soon, and launching on our app in early 2021.

It’s the cherry on top of that ice cream sundae… an extra banana in the bunch. Up to 15% cashback on the things you buy regularly soon adds up, but you might also be inspired to try something new.

At present, we don’t know any more. It is good to see Lloyds Bank extending this scheme, which is already available via some of its other brands, to MBNA.

The key point at present is that, if you were thinking of cancelling a legacy MBNA credit card for any reason, you may want to hold on.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (51)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Alan says:

    I just this weekend found these cards again, I had stuffed them in a drawer a few years ago when Virgin and Lufthansa were cancelled. Glad to see these are becoming more useful, admittedly I had completely forgotten about the no fx fees+cash back.

  • memesweeper says:

    Kicking myself for handing back that Horizon card now…

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      0.5% cold hard cash on a visa? Yes you were mad!

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Fully agree – I wasn’t being at all sarcastic I use my Horizon card a huge amount – this year in particular I’m Erring on the side of cash, most liquid of rewards after all

        For zero fee, I really did mean it was mad to relinquish it

      • memesweeper says:

        At the time there were other cards in my wallet with similar kick-backs. I didn’t want to carry too much unused credit… ce la vie!

    • Rob says:

      I kicked myself for handing back my Marriott Visa this year when the Amex started doing 15 elite nights. Would have put me on 25 per year without leaving the house.

      • Harry T says:

        Seems like all the best cards no longer exist! I got into the game too late…

        • Rob says:

          BMI used to have a Visa earning 2.5 miles per £1 which HMRC took without charging any fees.

          • Harry T says:

            That’s insane – what’s changed to make the UK rewards card market so dismal? Was it the interchange fees cap?

      • Matt says:

        In the US you can get nights from a Business card and nights from a personal card. Is there any sign of a Marriott business card for the UK?

      • guesswho2000 says:

        I cancelled the Creation Marriott MC years ago, when it was still available, and it’s the one card I had which I regret cancelling!

        • the_real_a says:

          It was dire at-the-time and just cluttering up my credit report. Now the earning is pretty decent!

  • Sukes says:

    I have a supplementary card on my horizon account too – I haven’t checked the t&c yet to see if they will be involved in these awards. I got sent a secure msg by MBNA on my account y’day which states the terms of the scheme will apply to my account 23 Nov, IIRC. There is no ability to sign up for offers yet. This card is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Sukes says:

    The scheme is supplementary to your existing card benefits.

  • JohnT says:

    Would show as a credit on your statement probably early Jan.

  • Andrew says:

    Sure, just go to the app and check your January statement. It’ll show as a credit.

  • Nick Burch says:

    Only comes once a year, on your card anniversary date. Will show as a statement credit

  • Rob says:

    It won’t. The rewards are funded by merchants, so it doesn’t cost Lloyds anything.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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